Thursday morning, around 4am, I was awakened by my bride. She told me that the baby had a temperature of 102.9, that she had called his pediatrician, who told us to take Sam to the emergency room.
We went to the hospital where he was born. A very effeminate male nurse came into the room and took our basic information and examined the baby. Then a doctor entered the room. He told us that in babies this young temperatures can be very dangerous and that the protocol called for aggressive treatment. Sam was to be hospitalized for observation and was to receive an IV, have his blood and urine tested, and get a spinal tap (!).
When he left the room I looked at Michelle, took Sam from her arms and walked over to the sink. I ran the water, cupped my hand, and trickled water over his head three times, saying “I baptize you in the name of the Father. And of the Son. And of the Holy Spirit.”
Soon another male nurse came in and the two nurses proceeded to look bewilderingly for a tiny vein for the IV. Giving up, they called for another, more experienced woman nurse. She attempted to insert the IV without success, the baby crying in pain. At this they called another nurse, this one from the neonatal unit upstairs. She seemed to be much more confident, but within minutes was called back to her unit for an emergency. At this the nurse who had tried to find a vein began looking at Sam’s arm again.
And Michelle stood up, fire in her eyes. “I’m sorry” she said, “I have to leave. I am going to Akron Children’s”.
She grabbed the baby and fled the room.
The nurses were stunned, as was I. While I was alarmed at the apparent incompetence of the nurses, “let’s get the hell out of here” hadn’t occurred to me as an option.
I grabbed our stuff and ran after my bride.
We then drove to Akron, both wondering if this was wise or not.
As soon as we arrived it became apparent that Michelle’s instincts were right (as they generally are). Everyone at Children’s seemed utterly at ease instead of nervous. The two nurses, both middle-aged and sweet women, inserted an IV without any problem. What is more, before they did so they gave Sam a pacifier with a little sugar-water on it. He had never experienced such a thing before, and his eyes lit up like he was thinking “Whoa! What is this?”and he began sucking vigorously. It distracted him so effectively that he did not cry when the IV was inserted or even when the spinal tap was administered. I think it must have been like the time when I was given nitrous oxide for a root canal: I was aware that somewhere, far away, someone was doing something very unpleasant in my mouth, but I was totally absorbed with the beauty of the music of the Carpenters, which was playing in the dentist office, wondering how I had never appreciated it before.
Then we were sent to a room to await the results. The doctor here, unlike the one at the first hospital, had told us that 99% of infants with temperatures were fine, but that in a few it could be disastrous. I figured that Sam had almost certainly contracted the bug that had hit most of his siblings in the last two weeks -great timing – which gave them a bad fever for about 12 hours, after which they were fine.
As the day wore on the results trickled in. It wasn’t meningitis or pneumonia, or any other bacteria. It was, in fact, viral.
Yesterday they said that he would probably be released today, but then he had a rough night last night, so he is staying here again…
When I posted this on Facebook someone wrote “You just can’t get a break, can you?”
Actually, I am very aware that we have been given a break; it is not the worst that it could have been. He is almost certainly going to be fine. While I certainly feel sorry for our baby, undergoing another ordeal in his two-week old life, I think of the multitudes who are experiencing sick babies in tents in refugee camps, without adequate medical care, or those facing illness without insurance, knowing that the hospital stay may bankrupt them.
And I am very aware of the great break of marrying a woman with the fire and sense to stand up and flee when her baby is being handled by incompetents.
Thanks be to God, and pray for us.
Sam came home today, Saturday, around one o’clock. He is sleeping a lot and all is well. Pray that this is the most eventful two weeks of his life, medically speaking.